Hall upends champ for pipe gold
The feet still hurt. His best friend has yet to fully recover from a crash in December that put him in a coma.But after winning an elusive Winter X Games gold medal in men’s skier superpipe Tuesday night, Tanner Hall said it seemed like things were looking up in the new year, following what was a disastrous 2005. “It took so long to get a pipe victory,” said Hall, who unseated friend and two-time defending champion Simon Dumont to win his fifth career gold medal. “Now that it’s over with the pipe victory, this is like the last thing I needed. I’m ready to pursue my career. I’m trying to get into a lot of big mountains and a lot of helicopters.”
Dumont started having back spasms during practice runs but fought through what he called “the craziest pain in my life” to take the bronze. After his second-run score of 90, Dumont jumped into the lead, then watched from below as Hall dropped in for what ended up being the winning run.Hall then sat and watched from above as Laurent Favre of La Clusaz, France, jumped ahead of Dumont with his final effort – a 91-point run that was capped by a corked 720, a switch alley-oop 540 and then a switch 900. Dumont was unable to move up the leaderboard with his final run.
“I don’t care if I got third or not, or first. I just wanted to put on a show for these little kids,” said Dumont, who took two Hydrocodone tablets to dull the pains in his back. “There’s no way I would drop out of this event. I talked to so many kids and they’re like, ‘Are you going to be in halfpipe? Are you going to be in halfpipe?’ There’s no way I’m going to let these guys down.”Hall was also in pain Tuesday – noting that he considered not competing in this year’s Winter X Games after breaking both his ankles while filming in the Utah backcountry last March.His feet still hurt when he lands on hard, icy snow, Hall said. But after his good friend C.R. Johnson injured his head in a fall during the holidays, Hall said he was motivated to return to Buttermilk and win gold in the superpipe. He skipped the overhauled slopestyle contest on Saturday specifically to focus on Tuesday’s prime-time event.
“A crazy year,” Hall said. “Between my crash, and between coming up at the end of the year with C.R.’s crash right at Christmastime. I knew that he was going to get better, and I knew that if I’m healthy, I’m going to be skiing for him until he gets back on his feet. I just talked to him and he said he was sending positive energy to me all night.”Loic Collomb-Patton, also of La Clusaz, finished fourth with a score of 84.66, followed by Andreas Hatveit of Norway (81.33) and J.P. Solberg of Waterville, N.H. (80.00).Local star Peter Olenick of Carbondale fell on his first two runs, before a clean third run lifted him into seventh place with a score of 79.33.”It was awesome tonight,” Olenick said over the loudspeakers to the local fans in attendance. “I can hear everybody yelling on every hit down the pipe.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com. For more Winter X coverage, log on to http://www.aspentimes.com/xgames.
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